Berkeley-Haas Surveys The Future of Cannabis Industry


Berkeley’s Haas School of Business recently published an article on the conclusion of “High Margins: The Business of Legal Cannabis,” a six-week student-organized series that explored the “most promising business models, investment strategies, future regulatory schemes and the changing risks for a market long forced to operate underground.”

The legal American cannabis market is slated to triple by 2018. Twenty-nine states and Washington D.C. have laws that “legalize cannabis in some form,” which supports data from ArcView Market Research and New Frontier Data that the industry will explode by 2020, earning potentially upwards of $22 billion—three times the current value of the market.

Haas Interpersonal Development Program leader Michael Katz helped spearhead the idea for the series with the expectation that there might be a new job market for Haas students. Katz says, “Cannabis is in the very, very early stages of becoming an advanced business, but the people entering this space are botanists or chemists. They’re not experienced business people.”

Guest speaker Victor Pinho, the marketing director for Berkeley Patients Group, the oldest medical cannabis dispensary in the country, said, “We’re navigating a space that, until now, hasn’t had a playbook or set of rules. My day, every day, has been making up those rules and testing and seeing what fits.”

Katz quickly and easily found MBA ’17 students Jessica Sun and Cody Little eager to run the speaker series. Both Sun and Little wanted to “start conversations at school about fringe economies and how they generate opportunity for people but simultaneously entrap them in non-institutional ways of working in the world.”

Katz says, “Berkeley belongs in any area that’s at that intersection of technology, markets, and social justice.”


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